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Co-op Action Mechanic

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jumpseat's picture
Joined: 10/21/2009

I'm developing a co-op game where the initial group dynamic is of a freshly formed squad. Player characters begin equal; there are no leaders or character types, but as play unfolds characters have the option to "take the initiative".

One mechanic I am toying with is that there is a shared pool of dice, each with different faces counts d4,d6,d8,d10,d12,d20. When it is a players turn they can take any dice from the pool and use it to attempt/perform an action, such as a movement or using gear. A larger dice will have more chance of success (though some actions are easier than others and dont need the big dice); but the trade-off is that the dice you take (and have by you at the end of the round) forms a pecking order for negative attention from the game-controlled enemies on the games turn; which is triggered when the dice pool is emptied.

What I like about the basic concept is it makes for a pure co-op game where you can also have strong personal character development and choices by actually by sticking your neck out for the good of the group. "Seizing the initiative" and a big dice at the right moment can allow any character to shine as the game plays out... or perhaps playing more of a following or backseat role and taking a smaller dice might be best for the team on many turns.

I wont go into it here, but the concept expands to a face-paced in-game character development, individuation and team formation. I.e. you dont choose a character type, but by mid game your character has naturally taken on a unique role and attributes through game play choices (yours and your fellow players)

Anyone sense any issues with the basic concept?

Markus Hagenauer
Joined: 12/04/2009
Sounds like a verry

Sounds like a verry interrestion machanic to me. It´s hard to say how good it will fit into a whole game. I guess balancing will be the biggest problem, so it in not just a choice of taking the highes or lowest. Maybe this will be easyer with custom dice instead of regular d4-d20 (maybe a d4 with 1-3-5-7 , a d6 with 1-3-5-7-8-9 .... and a d20 with 1x 1-5 and 3x 6-10 or something like this) so tha gap is not that big, only the odds are better.

InvisibleJon's picture
Joined: 07/27/2008
Does the pool scale based on # of players?

jumpseat wrote:
(T)he trade-off is that the dice you take (and have by you at the end of the round) forms a pecking order for negative attention from the game-controlled enemies on the games turn; which is triggered when the dice pool is emptied.


Anyone sense any issues with the basic concept?

I'm a big fan of co-op games (playing and design), and I like this concept. Specifically , I'm fond of the high level of empowerment you've given the players.

Since emptying the die pool triggers the enemies, and your odds of attracting negative attention directly correspond to the dice you've taken, I'm assuming that the size of the die pool varies with the number of players. Otherwise, two players would have to "absorb" significantly more dice per player than four players would.

...Thinking about a shared pool of dice has me thinking about "merging" or "splitting" dice to alter the probability curves, etc.: A d20 could be "split" into 2d10, or 3d6 and 1d2. Note that I'm not saying that you should do this - it's just a mechanical thought that flitted through my head.

Anyway, your game sounds very clever. I hope it turns out the way you want it to!

jumpseat's picture
Joined: 10/21/2009
Dice Pool

Cheers guys.

Yeah, I was thinking that either the number of players would change the dice pool set-up; or that only the highest dice you take counts as the attention rating you get. So in a two player game if one player took the d4, d8, and d10, then their threat to the enemy, and thus attention they get would be d10 level. Haven't run through all the scenarios to check it works, but something simple like the highest dice - if it works - would be good; or if not, then directly tweaking the dice pool set-up would be do-able.

The custom dice idea has been bouncing around in my mind. I'm thinking I'll probably develop with the standard dice and see how it goes - because I have them lying around - and gradually move towards something a more custom. I think the huge differences between the standard dice could actually play into the drama of choice.

Jon, the splitting dice is a nice thought. One interesting proposition is that your target number is always 10, rather than rolling high; this opens up some clearly interesting ideas. Could work great in a co-op game, for instance, if one player attempts something, then they roll 1d20, if two players are there to contribute, then its 2d10 and so on... that's quite cool. Lots of interesting ways that could be developed. Be interesting if the dice pool mechanic I'm pondering combined somehow with the splitting the dice idea; make for a pretty solid and unique co-op dice game.

The game I'm developing the dice pool for is actually the most expansive and mechanic heavy game I have on the drawing board, so I have considered that the dice pool idea may also be lifted and used in a more simple game. Your idea of the splitting dice has kinda opened my eyes to how much play you could get from just playing with dice in a co-op. Be happy to further explore the idea if you are so inspired.

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